Microsoft BUILD 2015 Is In Its Second Day…
… and as I read my Twitterfeed and watched clips I was fully expecting to hear big news but Microsoft managed to astound, impress and leave me with big questions.
As you read the comments and the sheer scope of innovation being launched it occurs that Microsoft is a company reborn with newly defined priorities and strategies.
A Few Days Later, What Do We Know?
Prior to the Microsoft BUILD I heard the rumors being touted by expert Windows blogger, Paul Thurrott that Windows Phone were biting the bullet and announcing support for Android Apps. If possible I had a stronger negative reaction to this news than Thurrott.
What I did not consider is where this slotted into a greater picture or ecosystem. This was my subsequent view of things:
The highlights and by no means all of the news from Microsoft BUILD was delivered in a succession of presentations. It seemed at one point that every sentence was a new release or innovation to a product.
The image above shows the main focus points, here are their highlights: –
- Windows 10 for PCs will launch this summer with Windows Phone, Hololens and Surface Hub to follow.
- Windows 10’s Project Spartan browser was officially named as Edge. Windows Insider participants can now download the latest release of Windows 10 and get Edge, a more Spartan take on the browser but one with the ability to (after small tweaks) use Chrome extensions, write onto webpages, have better touch control and use built-in Cortana. Edge will be exclusively Windows based, there are no plans to bring this to iOS, Mac, Android or Linux unlike Office or Cortana.
- Cortana is evolving and integrating into apps, the example given of an event requiring travel will take you to Uber to book your trip.
- Windows Spotlight will be a built in interactive, intelligent lock screen that will interact with the user.
- Windows Continuum for Windows Phone: the promise of Tablets / Windows Phone as a PC has arrived by connecting the phone via HDMI to a larger screen.
- Windows 10 UI / UX is giving users some familiar comfort with the return of the Aero Glass UI and overlapping and rescalable windows.
- Xbox streaming of games to Windows 10 means that when you absolutely have to play the new version of HALO, you can during your coffee break at work from your laptop.
- The Windows Store will be the central source for Windows Universal Apps and the big news is the implementation of carrier billing to make it easier to make store purchases.
Paul Thurrott got the news of Android Apps coming to Windows Phone mostly correct, in fact:
- Developers can take their existing Android or iOS code and create apps for Windows 10 as Universal Apps. The truth is we should have known this was coming and there are a slew of challenges involved in getting this right.
- It seems these apps will be available through the Windows Store and as Universal Apps will run on all Windows 10 devices.
- There will be a version of Visual Studio called CODE that is already available for free download and several screenshots from BUILD show it running on Linux.
- Microsoft also managed to wow the audience when delivering this news by running an iOS app on Windows 10 seamlessly.
- There is so much more to this and Visual Studio support for Mac, Linux, iOS and Android, and not just using Xamarin. This deserves a post all to itself.
- TFS yes that’s right, we’re getting Team Foundation 2015 with all it’s ALM, Testing and Build-y goodness and it appears to support much of the cross-platform innovations mentioned at Microsoft BUILD.
With thanks to Microsoft News Center / Blogs for the assorted images
- Until now Office Graph and Delve have been limited to Microsoft information silos like Sharepoint and Exchange however, it appears the Microsoft want to truly leverage the power of smart content discovery to a greater variety of silos.
- Office is getting into the wider app integration business with Outlook working with a variety of apps; in fact, Office will allow all sorts of apps to sit atop Office and work in concert with the existing Office apps. Again Uber was one such app mentioned.
- Office itself will be delivering a stronger touch-oriented UX with Office 2016 for web, mobile (tablet / phone) and desktop.
- Azure will be providing a variety of improved services including Azure SQL Data Warehouse (dare I call it DWHaS?), Azure Data Lake (a big data repo) and SQL Elastic DB (one Azure for all your databases).
- All this followed the announcement just prior to BUILD of new micro-services.
- Hololens deservedly was the jewel in the crown of Microsoft BUILD with more demonstration of the holographic marvel.
- Attendees were able to see an onstage demo of a holographic medical anatomy study app and a virtual pet dog.
- Hololen also demonstrated that with minor changes Universal Apps could be turned into Hololens apps too.
The Warptest POV
It seems that Microsoft decided to take a shock and awe approach and as the title of this post says, Microsoft BUILD should have been called ReBUILD. There were some criticisms that this was an overly Developer oriented conference, which in turn received its own share of flak but let’s be honest; Microsoft BUILD is a conference for Developers about Dev related innovations.
The first line of offense in successfully selling Windows 10 and the other products has to be to the people who will choose this ecosystem to develop apps in.
The big target here (see the slideshow above) is to get Windows 10 on 1 billion devices: from IoT thru mobile to desktop and with free upgrades for Windows 7 and 8 devices it doesn’t seem such a tall order.
Whilst Hololens is a game changer, we have yet to hear a release date or more importantly a pricepoint.
Windows 10 is nearing the stage of a mature beta product and the Insider community have been invaluable to Microsoft in insights into how to make Windows 10 even better than it is. The slew of features demonstrated were impressive and my favorites are Cortana on Windows 10 and also Continuum.
Assuming that Windows Phone will deliver a high-end phone with serious (even ARM Processor?) spec then this can become a serious productivity device both on the go or connected to a flatscreen and Microsoft’s universal folding keyboard but as of this morning it has been confirmed by WindowsCentral that Continuum will require new hardware. This almost guarantees new Lumia devices will be coming down the pike but which will arrive first, the feature in the OS or the hardware onboard phones supporting dual screen use?
The news of Universal apps including recompiled iOS and Android apps is clearly a game changer but given the complexity and ramifications deserves its own post. I have mixed feelings about this one.
Azure are gearing up for a major throwdown with Amazon AWS, up until now the fight has been over price but now it’s also over services.
IMHO Spartan is a much better name than EDGE but the browser speaks for itself and the features make for a new way of using the web.
There seems from all reports to be a general desire by Microsoft to put Windows 8 and Metro UI New Windows UI behind it. I was hard pressed to find reference to Live Tiles and other Windows 8 related terminology which IMHO does a huge disservice to everything good about Windows 8 that was the foundation for Windows 10.
All in all, Microsoft BUILD is a testament to the hard work and investment in change at the company. As a consumer who has already gone hands-on with Windows 10 and plans to do so with Windows 10 Phone I’m excited to know the release dates and plan accordingly. How about you?